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Harmonic Touts New Broadcast Delivery ‘Ecosystem’

Peter Alexander, chief marketing officer for Harmonic

SAN JOSE, CALIF.—From the slopes of Sochi all the way back to the desert of Nevada, it’s been a busy year for Harmonic.

Helping NBC Universal churn out a massive editing and highlight package for the 2014 Winter Olympics was step one; now the company comes to the NAB Show to tackle a new set of challenges.

On the one hand, there’s the still untapped world of OTT; on the other, sits the promise of 4K. Harmonic is trying to wrap its arms around it all, with a mix of new product introductions and a mums-the-word technology launch that the company believeshas “the potential to redefine the broadcast video delivery ecosystem,” said Peter Alexander, chief marketing officer at Harmonic.

This “groundbreaking software technology announcement” represents a fundamental shift in the company’s strategic vision, he said. The company plans to make a formal announcement on the software launch at its NAB press conference. “It builds on things we’ve done and shifts the direction we’re heading,” Alexander said.

In the last 12 months, the company’s customer base has grown, as both broadcasters and new media companies are beginning to operate in a new way, Alexander said. This is one factor that influenced the company to further pursue multiscreen technology solutions. The response is the launch of new solutions like the ProView 8000 integrated receiver-decoder (IRD) family, which is designed to optimize primary distribution of video content over satellite or IP delivery networks. The company will demonstrate first member of the ProView family—the ProView 8100 commercial decoder—at its booth, illustrating the ability to distribute video at resolutions up to 1080p50/60. Other multiscreen solutions include Harmonic’s multiscreen ad insertion solution, which leverages multiscreen transcoding features via the ProMedia and ProStream transcoder.

With an eye on the emergence of the Ultra HD format, Harmonic will play a role in demonstrating a live 4K 2160p 60 demonstration, and will showcase how its MediaGrid shared storage system can be used for collaborative and 4K editing. The company will also feature enhancements to the Spectrum media server product line and ChannelPort integrated channel playout system.

“The last few months have reaffirmed the direction of the industry [in regard to 4K],” Alexander said. “Price points are coming down, and there’s far more content available.

The company will also show off the Electra multiformat encoding platform, an ATSC 3.0-ready multifunction encoding platform that features high-density audio encoding capabilities. Also on display: a distribution solution designed around the Harmonic DMS video distribution management system.

Now that they’re in Las Vegas and Sochi is behind them, Harmonic is able to look back at its role inside one of the most technologically challenging broadcast events and see the advantages.

“We’ve worked on the last four Olympics, and this one was a particularly challenging Olympics [for NBC] because they backhauled all of their footage to the U.S. for editing and highlights,” Alexander said. Though the duties were familiar, the challenges came in the form of new formats and adapting to the scale of the project. This time it was covering “all countries, all meets, with it all available online,” he said, which was facilitated with the company’s Media Grid storage solutions, Spectrum ingest and play out server, and ProMedia transcoder solutions.

Here at the show, Harmonic is focused on what’s next. “We’re excited about a number things going on for broadcast, from the emergence of multiscreen to the potential of UHD.”

Harmonic will be in booth SU1210 in the South Hall.

Susan Ashworth is the former editor of TV Technology. In addition to her work covering the broadcast television industry, she has served as editor of two housing finance magazines and written about topics as varied as education, radio, chess, music and sports. Outside of her life as a writer, she recently served as president of a local nonprofit organization supporting girls in baseball.